Unlike last year, there is widespread expectation that the Seattle Seahawks will make the playoffs in 2023. The weakened state of the NFC West, combined with the uncertainty at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has generated hope that Seattle can win the division for the first time since 2020.
I don’t believe I’m off-base in saying that quite a bit did have to go right for Seattle that was beyond the team’s control. As mentioned earlier, half the NFC West imploded and the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams were two of the worst teams in the league. The AFC West was hyped up heavily but only the Kansas City Chiefs actually lived up to the billing, and we know what happened with the Denver Broncos. And yet, Seattle also got to play the entire NFC South and they were swept anyway. On the plus side, the Seahawks got much better play from Geno Smith than most had anticipated, and the rookie class contributed massively to the team’s biggest successes on both sides of the ball.
The optimism for the 2023 Seahawks is centered heavily around Geno maintaining if not improving his performance, likewise for the 2022 draft class, as well as getting major contributions from this year’s rookie class. But there are still question marks about the run defense, the pass rush, middle linebacker depth, Jamal Adams’ health (and abilities if he can play), and the defensive line as a whole. In terms of the schedule, on paper it is daunting considering the NFC East sent three teams to the playoffs last season, and the AFC North is up there with the AFC East for best division (on paper!) in the NFL.
The improvement of the defense is pretty much a must for Seattle to be a contender, and that goes without saying. I will argue that the offense is actually by a considerable distance what will determine the Seahawks’ fate. As I wrote earlier in the year, Super Bowl contenders (not necessarily champions) without top-10 defenses happen all the time, but not having a top-10 offense is practically death. Seattle did not have a top-10 offense by DVOA by the end of last year, and the boom or bust nature of the run game certainly mattered a lot on that front.
If the Seahawks offense doesn’t elevate itself into a consistently top-tier unit this season, they have no chance of contending. So even though the defense will capture a lot of attention because it’s been such a sub-par unit for years now, I’m fixated on what the offense can do to pull itself up alongside the league’s elite.
What do you believe will be the deciding factor(s) for the Seahawks in their quest for not just a playoff berth, but an actual postseason run as opposed to an instant exit? Let us know by scrolling down to the comments section!